I love Civiliations II. The simplicity and elegance of that game make it playable even today. One of the features I liked to toy around was to set all the empires to an AI and instead of playing the game, I'd watch a game organically play out.

In effect the game would become an empire and world simulator. So I got an idea. What if I could use this simulator feature to create a fully fleshed out fantasy world where every city, town, fortress, and army was logically placed. A problem I have had with world building is creating a logical set up of kingdoms that would make sense in the real world. Secondly, empires and nations change during the course of a game and keeping track of all the reprecussions is a booger of headache Thousands of factors go into the creation and evolution of a kindgom. Why not let a computer do the heavy lifting and create that world for you? Once you've started the simulator and advanced it to the middle ages you can start your game. Every time a month passes in the game you can advance the simulator by one turn providing a changing world for your players. What could have taken hours then can be done in minutes.

Has anyone tried this in the past? Did it work out?

I understand your dilema about setting up kingdoms with realistic borders. See also my article "What I Bring to the Table Part 3: Campaign-iverse" http://www.gamegrene.com/node/744 as confirmation of this. However, I think you are maybe taking this a little too far. Those national boundaries change very little in Month to Month tems becasue most are based on geographical features, mostly rivers which change little. Additionally, mustering more troops for sustained war is not very practical. While nations might not be friendly with one another, there is not much blatant hostility. In Advanced Civilization (Boardgame) usually there is little war in the late game as each player has reached a viable condition and usually just needs to return troops to stock.

While I do enjoy playing Civ 2, I don't think it is a practical maintenance tool for gaming. I will agree with a potential for establishing a viable map, with resources and technology for a game. It even establishes some government guidelines.

I have not seen a game where a changing border/political entity/whatever had an actual effect in play.

OTOH a relationship chart might be useful for you. The political factions (countries and other powerful entities such as a mage consortium, or "The Vatican") are represented along each axis and the opinion of each is given. Frex,


In this case Crayon is at war with Butros and allied with Arlen (Arlen is afraid of Butros). Eldritch (the mages alliance) is illegal in Drool and imposing some sort of sanction against Butros (maybe the war conflicts with their plans). Crayon is a secret puppet of Drool.

Of course more conditionas are possible and a spreadsheet is useful as the status can be more verbose.

I tend to cheat a bit with world creation. I like to take old maps, either true historical or from old roleplaying supplements. I look at the map and make up people, buildings and explanations for odd markings or features.

For example, a friend gave me a copy of Lankhmar, City of Thieves. I loved the large sprawling city, the clearly labeled streets (and the street names are awesome), and the distinct sections of the city.

I invented an entire kingdom around this one city map.

So look for old supplements, online games (Final Fantasy has some decent maps), or old maps of our world and flesh them out. Just concentrate on the map and try to explain everything on it. Pretty soon you'll have what you need.

The second "cheat" that I use is to provide a basic timeline for the world. I make the timeline without the characters in mind, as if they didn't exist. We all know that PCs will affect things great and small. This timeline is what the world would be like without them in it. Adjusting what will happen due to unforseen player action is much easier than making up everything as you go.

I tend to do this on a yearly basis, but I'll break it down or expand it as needed.

For example:

Day 1: A dozen spies enter Lankhmar and establish hideouts. Over the next few months they will infiltrate society and promote unrest among the poorer residents, gather intel, and dispose of certain key individuals.

6 months later: Unrest is spreading throughout the city. Gangs are very active and few people go out without friends or bodyguards. People of a specific minority race and/or religion is the focus of most of the aggressive acts and are to blame for conditions in the city.

1 year: Curfew is mandatory and the military has been assigned to supplement the city guard. Small riots and mob action is occurring every week. Tension within the city is high. Most merchants start avoiding the city.

1 year 3 months: Elite soldiers, disguised as mercs enter the city in small groups. Most of them join the city guard. Others hide in prearranged holdouts.

1.5 years: Massive riots spread throughout the city. One week into this stage of anarchy, a fleet of ships appear on the horizon.

The military is pulled to defend against the threat and the city burns from within. Mercenaries target city watch patrols. The fleet of ship attack from without as the strategically placed mercs and spies/assassins attack from within. The city falls.

This timeline of events could be disrupted by PCs in the city. Or the PCs may simply hear about the city during their travels. Either way, you have a timeline of events. These events will affect you players in some way, even if only by driving up the price of food or dealing with refugees.

Got it?

BTW If you take a map of Mars and fill in oceans, forests and the like, you'd have a complete and detailed world map with some truly cool features. Just a thought...

"Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he'll become what he should be." - Jimmy Johnson

I tend to cheat a bit with world creation. I like to take old maps, either true historical or from old roleplaying supplements. I look at the map and make up people, buildings and explanations for odd markings or features.

That's not cheating. It it improvising, adapting, overcoming!

My favorite so far was starting with a VFW calendar with lots of great outdoor scenery and inventing the story from the background pictures.

I did try using the editor-mode with Civ-3 as well as the standard game. What I enjoyed the most was a world chock full of tiny, barely inhabitable islands. It was a lot of work for little gain however.

Have you ever considered putting a party in a longer campaign in the center of one of your time lines? At every session you could open with news of new developments and weave them into the plot. That was my "Last Hurrah" so to speak.

One way to do it would be to play some tile-based strategy game like the Settlers of Catan with your players before the game starts, and then create your world map based on the way the tiles end up being placed. You would still decide political affiliations and culture and all that, of course.
I've never tried it myself, but I know someone who did for a sort of "living" type campaign at some local conventions, and it's been working out pretty well.